BUTCHERED

Not for the faint of heart or light of stomach, Butchered takes its audience into an absurdist descent of meat and madness. A fringe gem, highly recommended for anyone interested to see what horror theatre can deliver.

It is weird, gruesome, and a real festival highlight

This two-hander packs a punch from the moment we enter the gloomy damp space, which feels as though it was specifically designed for this production.

We meet two women, meticulously following a ritualistic mime of meat preparation. The horror is already there, visceral and disgusting. We hear the meat squelch, grind, and tear, from both an audio soundscape and the live prop. These horrific sounds also extend to the ones the actors produce: hoarse guttural screaming, gurgling, and pained groaning. The soundtrack went straight through my spine; at one point I began to feel physically sick.

We see the dirty faces, and grimy, blood-smeared costumes. The women's facial expressions are grotesque and bleak as they wipe their noses and lick their fingers. It truly is a deeply uncomfortable watch.

The performers have brilliant onstage chemistry and work seamlessly together, within both the sections of dialogue, and the skillfully crafted physical theatre. Their relationship is intriguing and holds the tension throughout the piece.

Listed as a piece of absurdist theatre, it fits well within the genre. The setting is a Waiting for Godot limbo, where the two are preparing the meat for unknown elites above: maybe humans, maybe monsters, this is unclear. As the play goes on, there's increasingly very little that is clear at all. We do not know the who, why, when, or even really what. What we do know is the potent misery and doom of the cycle they are trapped in.

Unlike most five star reviews, I can not recommend this show to everyone. It is weird, gruesome and heavily stylised. But if reading this hasn't put you off, then the show could be a real festival highlight… although maybe don't plan on eating any mince for your dinner that night.

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Reviews by Gillian Bain

Summerhall

Stuntman

★★★
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

Wild Onion

★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

BUTCHERED

★★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Burning Down The Horse

★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Girl Scouts vs Aliens

★★★★★
Summerhall

The Desk

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Welcome to the kitchen where dreams come to die. Master Sausage only knows one thing. Eat, sleep, sausage, repeat. But when a fresh-faced Apprentice arrives, sinister questions rear their heads. Is there more to life than this? What does it mean to be happy? And what's in those sausages anyway? Featuring dynamic physical theatre, a pitch-black comedic script and a killer soundtrack, Expial Atrocious' absurdist thriller demands to be seen and heard... Have you got the guts? ***** (Everything-Theatre.co.uk). ***** (FringeBiscuit.com). Nominated for an OffFest award at VAULT Festival 2023.

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